Archbishop Emeritus and anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu has died at the age of 90.
President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement on Sunday confirming the passing of Tutu.
Tutu who coined the phrase “the Rainbow Nation” and was affectionately known as “the Arch” had been fighting prostate cancer for about two decades.
Ramaphosa expressed his profound sadness on behalf of all South Africans.
“The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa. Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.”
Ramaphosa said Tutu succinctly articulated “universal outrage at the ravages of apartheid” when he was chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and demonstrated the depth of meaning of ubuntu, reconciliation and forgiveness.
“He placed his extensive academic achievements at the service of our struggle and at the service of the cause for social and economic justice the world over. From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has described the loss of Tutu as immeasurable.
“He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing. His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies. He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time.”
Tutu is survived by his wife Leah, four children and seven grandchildren.